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Three Americans hope to be pulled into repechage after first Greco-Roman session of 2019 World Championships

By Mike Willis, USA Wrestling | Sept. 14, 2019, 5:20 a.m. (ET)

Raymond Bunker battling Yogesh of India. Photo by Justin Hoch.

Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan - It was an up-and-down first session for Team USA at the 2019 World Championships in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan. The first day of Greco-Roman wrestling started off with the four non-Olympic weight classes. When the dust settled, three out of the four American wrestlers are still eligible for repechage pending the semifinal results.

At 55 kg, Max Nowry (Colorado Springs Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) started out with a 10-1 technical fall over 2019 European Championships bronze medalist Fabian Schmitt of Germany. Trailing 1-0 at the break off a passivity call, Nowry lit up in the second period. He hit a four-point arm throw to take a 4-1 lead. He followed it up with a go behind for two, before transitioning into three turns with a gut wrench for the win.

In the quarterfinals, Nowry squared off with Khorlan Zhakansha, of the home country, Kazakhstan. Zhakansha is a 2019 Asian Championships bronze medalist.

Nowry took a 2-0 lead into the break, after avoiding a Zhakansha arm throw attempt. However, in the second period Nowry was put down for passivity and gave up an exposure from a gut wrench to make the score, 3-2. Despite a flurry of attempts, Nowry was unable to score again, and that’s the way the match ended.

Zhaknsha needs to win his semifinals match in the evening session to keep Nowry’s tournament alive. He will face the 2018 World champion Eldaniz Azizli of Azerbaijan.

At 62 kg, Raymond Bunker (Camp LeJeune N.C./U.S. Marine Corps) won a back-and-forth battle with, 2019 Asian Championships 5th placer Yogesh of India.
At the break Bunker was leading 4-0 lead on the strength of a passivity point, an exposure on a reverse lock, and a step-out.

After the break, Bunker was put down from passivity. Yogesh scored 4 points off gut wrench exposures to take a 5-4 lead. Bunker scored a reversal and a step-out to regain the lead and take the victory, 6-5.

In the quarterfinals Bunker fell to returning World bronze medalist Aik Mnatsakanian of Bulgaria. Bunker took a 2-0 lead into the break off a passivity and a step-out point.

In the second period Mnatsakanian earned a step-out point of his own, and then Bunker was put down for passivity. Mnatsaknian turned him for 2 and then lifted him for another 2, to make the score 6-2. Bunker was unable to come back from the deficit and that’s how the match would conclude.

Mnatsaknian will need to defeat Aram Vardanyan of Uzbekistan, a 2019 Asian Championships fifth place finisher, in the semifinals to pull Bunker into repechage.

The last American alive after the first session is John Stefanowicz (Camp LeJeune, N.C./ U.S. Marine Corps) at 82 kg. Stefanowicz dropped his opening match to Lasha Gobadze of Georgia, 7-0. Stefanowicz was hit with passivity twice, and could not crack the Georgian’s defense.

Gorbadze, a 2015 World bronze medalist, dominated his quarterfinal opponent, Haitao Qian of China, 9-0. To extend Stefanowicz’s tournament he’ll have to defeat Nurbek Khashimbekov of Uzbekistan in the semifinals. Khashimbekov’s only result is a 17th place finish at the 2019 Oleg Karavaev in Belarus.

The only American eliminated after the first session, Ryan Mango (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) went 1-1 at 63 kg. Mango had no trouble handling Portugal’s Julinnho Corriea Diu, who placed 4th at the 2019 Mediterranean Championships. After earning a passivity point, Mango turned Corria Dju with a series of gut wrenches to win 11-0.

His second match was a wild affair with 2018 World Bronze medalist Rahman Bilici of Turkey. After being put down in par terre for passivity, Mango scrambled out and launched Bilici for 4 to take a 4-1 lead. Bilici would reverse Mango, turn him and force a step out to take back a 5-4 lead. Bilici scored once more from his feet to close the match out 7-4.

Bilici fell in the quarterfinals to Almat Kebispayev of Kazakhstan, 7-4, which ended Mango’s tournament.

All four wrestlers that competed today are members of the U.S. military. Bunker and Stefanowicz are members of the Marine Corps, and Nowry and Mango are members of the Army. All four were also competing in their first Senior World Championships.

The three wrestlers stuck in limbo will have their fates decided this evening when the semifinals start at 6 p.m. local time.

At Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan

First Session Results

55 kg/121 pounds – Max Nowry (Colorado Springs Co./U.S. Army WCAP)
WIN Fabian Schmitt (Germany), 10-1
LOSS Khorlan Zhakansha (Kazakhstan), 3-2

63 kg /138.75 lbs. - Ryan Mango (Colorado Springs, Colo/U.S. Army WCAP)
WIN Julinnho Corriea Diu (Portugal), 11-0
LOSS Rahman Bilici (Turkey), 7-4

72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Raymond Bunker, (Camp LeJeune, N.C./U.S. Marine Corps)
WIN Yogesh (India), 6-5
LOSS Aik Mnatsakanian (Bulgaria), 6-2

82 kg/180.5 lbs. - John Stefanowicz, (Camp LeJeune, N.C./U.S. Marine Corps)
LOSS Lasha Gobadze (Georgia), 7-0